These two pieces were written in 1902, when Elgar was approaching the peak of his fame and popularity. Unusually for Elgar they were not written to any commission. Michael Kennedy suggests that they may have been retrieved from the unused material for a symphony celebrating General Gordon which Elgar had been working on since 1898.  They are not complete symphonic movements (the first movement takes a little over three minutes to perform and the second a little over four minutes) but it was Elgar's practice to work in small sections and then put them together into a whole.
The response of children makes the essay dramatic and explains the effect of the essay on their mind. On the one hand their actions make their characteristic features clear. For instance, Alice seemed to feel discomfort when the grandmother’s ability to learn things by heart was mentioned. This shows that she was a typical child who won’t like the mention of qualities of others that she found lacking in herself. When Lamb told them that he preferred to see things at mansion rather than eating fruits, John put the grapes back. This shows his innocence as well as his ability to control his senses.